One day last summer Loren Ingebretsen decided to clean the shop on his farm at Felton, Minn.
“I had the time to do this unpleasant task,” Loren writes, “because we were ‘hunkered down’ at the request (a request I wholly deemed as proper) to stay home and help slow the spread of the virus.
“The shop, which now is in the fourth generation of our farm, has always been a place where things are made and repaired.
“In cleaning the shop, I started putting tools back in their designated places.”
An important item Loren dealt with was a tape measure. Well, actually, a lot more than one.
“Dad always told me,” he says, “that if a tape measure was not in reach of your arm, wherever you were standing in the shop, you would cut something wrong, wasting your time and money. So as I started putting the tape measures in their various ‘homes’ in the shop, it came as no surprise there were 18 of them in the shop. (This does not include the ones in the house, wood shop or garage; just the shop).
“Some of them are relatively new, while others are battle worn and veterans of the fights they have been involved in. They are of various lengths, from 6 feet to 25, and of widths of a quarter inch to 1 inch. But they all measure.
“So, on that morning of cleaning, I plugged in the coffee pot, and when the coffee was ready, I contemplated what those tapes have measured, and why we measure things, and I jotted down my thoughts. And now I will send those thoughts to you, because maybe you will see where I am coming from with them.”
So here is what Loren wrote down last year, in the height of the virus threat:
In many drawers, out in my shop,
A common tool I find hanging around;
Some are longer, some are wider,
But the same use, for each is found!
One bears the name of Stanley,
While Lufkin marks another.
And they are used by all the family.
Dad, son, daughter and mother.
They are: The trusty steel tape,
And measuring; it is the reason they are there.
And when they are used properly,
They help people cut things square.
This is a season of quarantine,
And in my shop I have the time
To turn the mess I find in there
Into a workplace quite sublime!
But this quarantine has also given me time to measure
This place that I call: Home!
Because our governor has told us to hunker down,
And not to other places roam!
I think about my neighbors,
Because they are hunkering, too,
And I wonder how they are coping
With what they can and cannot do.
I write letters to some of them
To let them know I count their friendship as a gift,
And I wonder who it benefits most, them or me,
But in thinking of them, I feel, my spirits lift!
One called me on the phone one day,
Just to say hello,
And it seemed that the receiver
Took on a brand new glow!
The news shows, a husband blowing kisses
To a wife, on the other side of the glass,
And the love between them shows in the teary eyes,
Like dewdrops on the grass!
I wonder how my tape
Out in the shop would fare
At trying to measure the love
That was passing through the air!
The seriousness of this pandemic
I cannot minimize,
But the quality of our communities
Cannot be measured by a tape of any size!
I hear people say that together
We will see this ordeal through;
But the measure of how we grow in all of this
Indeed, depends on me, as well as you.
May God’s tape measure find us standing tall!
If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email email@example.com.